It wasn't a happy start to Thanksgiving for several families at Ravenwood Apartments in Gulfport. It's the last thing any of us would want to happen. No time is a good time to be caught in a fire, but for a half dozen Gulfport families, this early morning apartment fire couldn't have come at a worse time: Thanksgiving Day. No one was hurt, and for that, the families say they still are thankful this holiday. Ravenwood resident, Danny Ladner, says he woke up around 4 a.m. to the sounds of pounding on the walls. He says it was police pounding on the doors. Initially, he didn't know what to think. Ladner says, "I thought maybe it was an earthquake banging the walls. Glass was coming down off the walls, and I opened the door and it was a cop telling everyone to get up and get out, that there was a fire." Ladner says he did what anyone else would do. He says, "So I just ran into the bedroom, got my wife up, told her to get out, grabbed the two dogs and a pair of pants, and ran on outside the door."
American Red Cross respondent, Roy Puckett, says he got the call around 6 a.m. that families needed assistance on Thanksgiving. Puckett says, "These families, I put them up in hotels and gave them food money. One family, their apartment was the one that was really burnt, and that family, we provided them with clothes, so that they could get on with their life." Puckett says Thanksgiving fires are one of the most stressful on families. Puckett also says, "They had planned their Thanksgiving and what they're going to do. Most of them were going to be at home, but a few that we're going to be eating out. They're okay, but the others… it's really stressful for them." It may be stressful, but the families agree they still have a lot to be thankful for. Ladner says, "We have a lot to be thankful for. We could have all died in it. It just happens. A neighbor had heard it and called 9-1-1, and that's the reason we all got out in time." Gulfport Police and Fire are still investigating. It's unclear at this point how the fire started.
(Editors note: During the News 25 at 9pm newscast, Gulfport Police issued the following release)
The Gulfport Police Department is requesting the public’s assistance in solving the crime of residential arson.
On November 28, 2013 at 3:54 a.m., the Gulfport Police and Fire Departments responded to Ravenwood Apartments, located at 546 East Pass Road, in reference to a reported fire.
Upon arrival, it was learned that an unknown suspect entered and set fire to an apartment home. The unknown suspect then left the area by unknown means. The resident of the apartment was not home at the time. Some of the neighboring apartments received smoke damage.
The investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with any information is urged to contact the Gulfport Police Department at (228)868-5959. You can also contact Crime Stoppers at www.mscoastcrimestoppers.com or by telephone at (877)787-5898. You can also text CSTIP plus your message to 274637(CRIMES).